I was sleepy the other night when I thought my husband said that there had been a 200 mile wide tornado killing people in Kentucky. Turns out it was a mile wide tornado (bad enough) touching down over a 200 mile area in several states (quite bad) in December (clear sign of a climate in crisis).
What he didn’t know at the time is that Amazon warehouse workers routinely deprived of their cell phones were buried under rubble when the roof collapsed.
Also that workers in Kentucky’s Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory who heard warning sirens and tried to leave were threatened with firing if they departed. Some stayed and died, some left anyway, and some stayed and survived to tell the tale.
The economic system producing both galloping climate change and burgeoning military budgets that drive climate change is a death cult.
Usually the claim “capitalism is a death cult” applies these days to the absence of public health policy that protects, you know, public health.
One cannot serve both commerce and health as the CDC has bent over backward to demonstrate.
In the second winter of a deadly pandemic the U.S. has racked up this dismal track record:
no universal health care
no free testing kits such as the rest of the world receives (and derision from the White House press secretary for even suggesting this would be a good idea)
vaccine mandates rather than empirically proven access + education + incentive methods
feeble vaccine distribution to low income nations we share the planet’s germ pool with
miniscule economic relief for actual people (vs. corporations)
An angry white man chastised me on Facebook for using asterisks in the word m*therf**ker claiming that Vietnamese Buddhist and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh advises us to “call things by their proper names.” He had commented on my recent blog post with a meme showing an unidentified Black man saying, “When are you dumb m*therf**kers gonna realize both parties work for the same fuckin people?”
While I agree wholeheartedly with the analysis, I have two goals in mind: the first is, don’t sink to name-calling (the first step in any genocide or civil war, because it dehumanizes “others”). The second is, don’t get kicked off Facebook.
Just yesterday a slew of prominent anti-vax accounts were kicked off YouTube (which is Google-owned, not Facebook-owned) and political commentators routinely have their social media accounts shut down for sharing inconvenient truths or using “violent language.”
So, I may be skating on thin ice with this post examining some of the thinking on both sides of the COVID vaccine controversy.
But, since I write when I’ve been reading news and opinion pieces until my head is about to explode, here goes.
Dr. Kimberly Manning is Black and, using hashtags like #blackwhysmatter, is offering a “No Judgment Zone” where people can talk about their vaccine hesistancy.
Fear is driving a lot of this hesitancy, especially as the CDC is a government agency that has given some really bad advice during this pandemic e.g. telling us last summer it was ok to take off masks in indoor public spaces if we were vaccinated. I suspect their motive for doing so was commerce not public health but, even if they were sincerely misguided, the advice was disastrous and led directly to this, the third and worst spike of COVID infections in the U.S.
Also infecting Black men with a debilitating, fatal disease in the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. The study ran, incredibly, from 1932 to fucking 1972! The subjects of this gruesome experiment were not told the facts, just that they were getting “free health care” from the federal government.
Here’s a young NBA player explaining his own vaccine hesitancy:
By now you probably think I’m anti-vax, but I assuredly am not.
I’m fully vaccinated, everyone in my family that’s the right age is fully vaccinated, and just this week I facilitated my husband getting a booster shot. One of my children got COVID last month but is fully vaccinated and had a mild case with no serious repercussions thus far.
Which is really fucking lucky, because now I’m going to address the other side of the ethical question. You know, public health, and the fact that we’re all in this mess together.
When an individual speaks about why he, as an individual, isn’t going to take the vaccine, I respect his opinion but I think he’s wrong. Epidemics aren’t about you, they’re about the germ pool you’re part of AND, increasingly important, about the hospitals you’re sharing with others in your community.
I’m going to share one of the thousands of stories out there from grieving families who watched a loved one die, not of COVID, but of being unable to access health care in areas where hospital ICUs are full to overflowing.
Then I’m going to share one of the thousands of stories out there from doctors and nurses who care for acutely ill patients and have been doing so in an escalating emergency that has now lasted 20 months.
Here’s one from Alabama dated September 13, “Family: Man turned away from dozens of COVID-filled hospitals.”
As hundreds of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filled Alabama intensive care units, hospital staff in north Alabama contacted 43 hospitals in three states to find a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin DeMonia, his family wrote in his obituary.
The Cullman man was finally transferred to Meridian, Mississippi, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) away. That is where the 73-year-old antiques dealer died Sept. 1 because of the cardiac event he suffered. Now, his family is making a plea.
“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies,” his obituary read.
And, here’s one from Iowa reported September 6 where an emergency room doctor with decades of experience shares his exhaustion and career perspective: [Dr.] VanGundy said that he’d recently seen non-COVID-19 patients with meningitis, stroke, heart attack, and blood clots in the lung, but couldn’t transfer them to ICUs because “they’re all full” with people who had COVID-19. He warned that if patients get sick then they’ll have to wait as long as “days” for a bed to open up…
“In over 20 years of doing this I have never been this busy or this stressed or seen this many sick people,” he said.
There is lots more anecdotal evidence of health care provider burnout and grieving families begging people to get vaccinated.
Many health workers will have the problem solved for them because many governments are mandating vaccines for them. It’s not a new idea, but it is adding a new vaccine to the list of vaccines already required in their field. And some health care workers have already quit rather than comply. They’re certainly not in the majority, but they do exist.
Do mandates work? Again, not a new question as vaccines and vax hesitancy have been around for a long time.
Short answer: no. Coercion is not the most effective way to address people fearful of a new type of vaccine.
What does work? Dr. Kimberly Manning’s approach: education, persuasion, listening, and not judging.
If I get kicked off my blogging platforms for saying that, so be it.